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those with the greatest impact on the issues of their time. he talks with richard brook highser on book tv's "after words" on c-span2. >> booktv interviews professor jeffrey macris about politics and security of the gulf. this part of booktv's college series. it's 20 minutes. >> host: jeffrey macris. permanent military professor at the u.s. naval academy. what does that title mean. >> guest: well, we represent the permanent military professors, a hybrid, a joining of the professor officer corps and professor and the professional educators here at the naval academy. i spent the first half of a
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naval career flying aircraft for the u.s. navy, and about ten years ago made the transition to academia, where the navy provided an outstanding opportunity to go back to graduate school and get a specialty in a geographic part of the world where i specialize in middle eastern history. >> host: and now an author. "the politics and security of the gulf" is the numb of your book. that's kind of a big topic. >> guest: it is. it's part of the world where the united states has been involved in three hot wars in the past generation, the iran-iraq war, desert shield, desert storm, and operation iraqi freedom. it's a big topic, and it needs to be discussed, and investigated, which is part of the reason why we took on this topic. >> host: in your book, where do you begin talking about u.s. involvement in the middle east? >> guest: well, the u.s.
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involvement in the middle east goes much further back. we're specifically looking at the persian gulf, and although u.s. navy frigates and ships paid some port calls in previous centuries, it really is world war ii that the united states and its military gets involved in the gulf in a big way. >> host: why? >> guest: well, surprisingly, it doesn't have to do directly with oil. world war iimarked the entry of the united states and its military for two reasons. one is to provide a secure pathway for supplies to our bee league erred soviet russian allies in their quest to defeat the germans. so the persian gulf route represented one pathway the united states could send lease equipment through a back channel, through persia and iraq or iran, through the mountains, and were picked up by the russians north of tehran. and for a second reason, a much
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smaller percentage of personnel were involved in training missions, in both iran and saudi arabia. but whereas after the end of world war ii, our 60,000 uniformed and civilian troops left the supply delivery business to russia, they left the gulf, those small number of advisors in saudi arabia and in iran stuck around for decades, and it's that role that really represented america's influence that stemmed from world war ii, the pro longed war in the gulf. >> host: professor, i think of the british when i think of the involvement in the middle east. when and how did they step back their involvement? >> guest: well, with regard to the gulf, the brits arrived in the 1800s. and it represented their quest to provide order to a part of --
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on the flanks to their imperial interests in india. the southern coast of the gulf had been called in the 1800s, the pirate coast, and the constantly feuding tribes fused with one another, which spill out into the sea-born approaches to india, and result in attacks on india, and possibly resulting weakness that might bring another great power. so the british found themselves pulled into the gulf in the 1800s. not to colonize as they did further to the east in india but, rather to maintain order there, and they did, with a relatively small amount of military force. but you're right, the story in the 1800s, and the 1900s, until the early 1970s, was one of british control over the persian gulf. and it was in the aftermath of
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world war world car -- world war ii, the british began their slow, prolonged entrend. in the gulf. with the independence of india in the late 1940s, the british lost the rationale for the military presence in the gulf, and they lost to a degree the money to pay for the military presence that maintained order for so long. >> host: did the americans step in because there's a vacuum? because they were asked to? >> guest: the story of that handover from british control or shepherding over the gulf, to that of the americans, is one that plays itself out over o0 years. in 1978 when the british announced their impending withdrawal in three years from the gulf, the americans initially said, in very, very
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explicit terms we will not replace the british here. the announcement of the british departure came the same month as the tet offensive in vietnam. and there was no interest on capitol hill for any additional military commitments in asia. so, the british began three years of turnover, and sent many of the small emirates on the southern side of the persian gulf -- set them off in a path to independence. so, in 1971, late 1971, when the british withdrew, series of newly independent states emerged but neither the united states or or britain was there to quell interstate pressures that brought the brits there during the previous century. so, in the absence of american power, washington had to rely on
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two surrogates. the saudis and the iranians. those same two countries, after world war ii, of which the united states military stuck around to help train. >> host: well, first off, professor, was there any resentment on the part of some of the countries in the middle east where we talk about taking over for the english, to manage their affairs or to monitor our affairs in the middle east? was there resentment in the persian gulf area about that? >> that's a complicated question. i would think for public consumption, in the period 1968 to 1971 when the british were managing their withdrawal, many of the arab emirates publicly pronounced they were happy to see the british leave. and under the guise of the persian gulf for the local
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powers, they publicly profess they didn't want the united states to replace them. in private, on the other hand, the arab small emirates along the southern coast of the gulf war petrified. for 150 years they had enjoyed a certain degree of british protection, and the small emirates and their leaders in diplomatic gatherings, small intimate gatherings, made offers to both london and washington to offer financial incentives for the british or the americans to stay. what were they afraid of? well, they were afraid of their giant neighbor the north, iran, that since world war ii had really -- really since most of the 20th century had been attempting to reexert the influence in the region that
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they had enjoyed in previous centuries. and they were also fearful -- the arabs were -- of some of their own neighbors. many of the arab states harbored border disputes with their neighbors. some claiming the territory of the others, some claiming the islands in between the different countries. so, there was fear of what was to come in the absence of the british presence. although those concerns were most often aired in private and not in public. >> host: so, when the u.s. stepped up its involvement in the middle east, what were in your view, our successes, what were our failures? >> guest: well, again, with regard to the gulf in 1971, when britain sailed away for the last time and set these countries free, there was for the first time in 150 years, there was no
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major western superpower to help quell the disorder in between the feuding parties that had originally brought the british to the region. america, as we previously said, was not interested in stepping in to assume any of those same security commitments the british did. and the americans were happy to allow the iraniansians and the saudis to maintain some semblance of order there, even if it went they weren't the exact interests of the united states. however, over the ensuing two decades, the west suffered a series of catastrophic foreign policy setbacks that step-by-step drew the united states back to the gulf, and by 1991, had assumed virtually the same security commitments that the british had been doing for 150 years.
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so, those foreign policy setbacks were the oil crisis and the supply disruptions of the 1970s. 1973. less than 24 months after the british departure, in response immediately to the war in the israel, several arab states engaged in oil production cutback and oil price increases. and theos quickly found it had very few military options to help influence what was going on in the arab world. during the period, '68 to ''71, the small emirates on the southern side of the gulf offered incentives to the united states to come, as we said. access to military bases the british were about ready to give up.
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and yet the united states said, no. well, flash forward to 1973 and the united states no longer has access to those bases that had previously been offered. so the united states takes an initial step toward military commitments or military involvement in the gulf in '73, but needed to protect its navy much further into the indian ocean and up toward the gulf than it ever had, and it began to look at an island base in the indian ocean called diego garcia, and began to explore improvements to that base that would allow it to project force to the region without having to depend upon the host nation support. the second step that the united states reluctantly took towards assuming some of those same british commitments, came later on in the decade with the fall of the shah, and the iranian revolution in 1978 and '79.
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the u.s. had to rely on saudi arabia and iran in the aftermath of british withdrawal because of america's involvement in vietnam, and with the primary pillar, iran, one of the two twin pillars now gone, the united states had to figure out a way to project military power, since its surrogates would no longer shepherd after western interests in the region. we see here with the carter administration and the late -- late in the carter administration, the enunsation of what would become known as the carter doctrine. in his state of the union suppose in 1980, president carter said in no uncertain terms that an attack on western interests in the persian gulf represents an attack on u.s. vital national interests, and the u.s. will be prepared to use military force in defense of those interests. i paraphrase. of course we didn't have in
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those 1970 years a robust military that would provide the opportunity to deploy force over those long distances. but nonetheless it was a step that the united states took toward assuming security responsibilities in the gulf. the next step that the u.s. took towards assume something of those same duties the british had previously done, came in the iran-iraq war. it began in 1980 and continued on through most of the 1980s. and during the reagan administration, drawing upon that same standard that president carter had put forward, projected military force into the gulf in the reflagging of kuwaiti tankers, putting u.s.a. flag on them and then using u.s. military combatants to escort the ships through the gulf, putting the u.s. military in harm's way.
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and then finally, in 1990, and 1991, the united states engaged in operation desert shield and desert storm after saddam's invasion of kuwait. so, after 1991, the united states never left, and it's been maintaining order, it's been keeping the gulf from deinvolving into interstate feuds. it's been ensuring the free trade in and out and through the gulf. the same missions the british had been doing in the 1800s and 1900s, and now it's separated by what i call in the book a 20-area chaotic time. >> host: professor macris, can that american hedgeomny continue? should it continue from a
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strategic and plate cav order basis. >> guest: obviously those are the decisions that the highest levels of the american administration need to investigate and need to make. from my training as a historian, i will offer, i think, these insights. that the gulf in and of itself is inherently unstable. it's what the political scientists would call anarchic, meaning there's no one power in the gulf that is strong enough to be able to impose its will over all of the others. putting it in a constant -- the players in constant competition, tension with one another. three regional powers, iran, iraq, and saudi arabia, and then the smaller emirates down to the south that are in and of themselves virtually defenseless in and of themselves.
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kuwait, bahrain, uae and ohman. those smaller, minor emirates, it's worth noting, emerged independent only due to a period of british hedgeomny where it was in the british interest to allow these states to emerge independent, separate from the other regional superpowers. if it weren't for the british presence in the 1900s, kuwait almost certainly would have been subsumed by iraq. bahrain, probably would have been gobbled up by the iranians. the uae probably would have accrued to or been swept over with the saudis. so, there is inherit tension, and that's in addition to, of course, the great tension between the arabs on the southern side of the gulf, and the persians or the iranians to
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the north. so, since the 1800s, it was that presence of an independent agent, the brits, who were able to keep many of these tensions under control. now, to be sure, many of the local actors didn't particularly welcome the british there. i think they food -- understood that as well. however it did provide a modicum of stability, and when the stability left in the 1970s, in my opinion -- this comes out in the book -- these underlying tensions are what cause many of the problems that eventually drew the united states, against its will in my opinion, back to assume that same security commitment that the british had held before. >> host: you begin your book, the politics and security of the gulf, in the forward you thank two men. who are they? >> guest: well, as part of my
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training as permanent military professor, i got the wonderful opportunity to get a ph.d at johns hopkins university school of advanced international studies, and had the wonderful blessing to study with two world renowned scholars, one a specialist in the middle east, and dr. cohen, a specialist in strategic studies or military history. in my own academic work, i have attempted to straddle both of those worlds, the military history aspect of the super power involvement in the gulf or the middle east in general. so, those two helped to shape the framing of this project, which was what -- how have london and washington shaped the history of the gulf over the past few centuries, and how, in turn, had they been shaped by
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this place? >> host: and, finally, professor, what's the difference between flying airplanes and teaching midshipmen? >> guest: well in both case you're dealing with high level office chaos and uncertainty, and the cockpit, you never know what you're going to get in a classroom of midshipmen you never know what they're going to ask but it's great to be at the naval academy, working with some of america's finest young men and women. >> ooher is -- >> host: here is the book. "the politics and security of the gulf." >> if we turn away from the needs of others we align ourselves with those forces which are bringing about this
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suffering. >> the white house is a bully pull pit, and you ought to take advantage of it. >> obesity in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis. >> antennas went up and told me when somebody had their own agenda. >> a shame to waste it. >> i think they serve as a window on the past to what was going on with american women. >> she becomes the chief confident can't. the only one in the world he can trust. >> many of the women who were first ladies were writers. a lot of them were writers, journalists, wrote books. >> they are in many cases more interesting as human beings than their husbands. if only because they are not first and foremost defined and limited by political amibition. >> dolly was both socially adept and politically savvy.
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>> dolly madison loved every minute of it. monroe absolutely hated it. >> she warned her husband, you can't rule without including what women want and what women have to contribute. >> during the statement you are a little breathless and too much looking down and i think it was a little too fast. not enough change of pace. >> probably the most tragic of all of our first ladies. they never should have married. >> she made a note in her memoir, she said i myself never made any decision. i only decided what was important and when to present it to my husband. now, you stop and think about how much power that is. it's a lot of power. >> part of the battle against cancer is to fight the fear that accompanies the disease.
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>> she transformed the way we look at these bugaboos and made it possible for countless people to survive and too flourish as a result. >> i don't know how many presidents realistically have that kind of impact on the way we live our lives. >> just walking around the white house grounds, i am constantly reminded about all of the people who have lived there before and particularly all of the women. >> first ladies, influence and image. a new series on c-span, produced in cooperation with the white house historical association. coming in february 2013. >> general, what about if the soviet union, khrushchev, announces they're going to
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attack cube bark it's going to be a nuclear war. >> serious that we're going to be uneasy and we know what is happening now. you have to use something. something may make these people -- i just don't believe this will. i'll say this, i want to keep my own people very alert. >> yeah. hang on tight. >> it's a fascinating moment. it's amazing that eisenhower tells him to have his people alert because everyone is just completely on edge. and so of course they're alert, and kennedy laughs, and then he kind of says, hang on tight, which is a nice moment that even on this terribly tense day they're able to joke a little bit with each other, and especially during this crisis. i think they had a sense of how lonely it is to occupy that office and you're getting all kinds of advice, good advice, a lot of faulty

Book TV
CSPAN November 25, 2012 1:15pm-1:40pm EST

Jeffrey Macris Education. (2012) BookTV at the United States Naval Academy Jeffrey Macris, 'The Politics and Security of the Gulf.' New.

TOPIC FREQUENCY United States 14, U.s. 7, Iran 6, India 5, America 4, The United States 3, Washington 3, The U.s. 2, Kuwait 2, Carter 2, Jeffrey Macris 2, Iraq 2, London 2, Vietnam 2, Bahrain 2, U.s. Navy 2, Saudis 1, An Island 1, Asia 1, Russia 1
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